"Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms
" is a popular folk song of early 19th century Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. Irish poet Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer. He was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron's memoirs after his death...
wrote the words to a traditional Irish air in 1808. His lyrics are as follows:
- Verse 1:
- Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
- Which I gaze on so fondly today,
- Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,
- Like fairy wings fading away
- Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
- Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
- And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
- Would entwine itself fervently still.
- Verse 2:
- It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
- And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
- That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
- To which time will but make thee more dear.
- No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
- But as truly loves on to the close:
- As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
- The same look which she turned when he rose.
Origins of the tune
The tune to which Moore set his words is a traditional Irish air, first printed in a London songbook in 1775. It is occasionally wrongly credited to Sir William Davenant, whose older collection of tunes may have been the source for later publishers, including a collection entitled General Collection of Ancient Irish Music
, compiled by Edward Bunting
Edward Bunting was an Irish musician and folk music collector.-Life:Bunting was born in County Armagh, Ireland. At the age of seven he was sent to study music at Drogheda and at eleven he was apprenticed to William Ware, organist at St. Anne's church in Belfast and lived with the family of Henry...
in 1796. Sir John Andrew Stevenson has been credited as responsible for the music for Moore's setting.
It is said that after Thomas Moore's wife contracted smallpox, she refused to let herself be seen by anyone, even her husband, due to the disfiguring effects of the disease to the skin on her body, and because she believed he could not love her after her face had been so badly scarred. Despairing at her confinement, Moore composed the lyrics of this song to reassure her that he would always love her regardless of her appearance. He wrote later that after hearing him sing to her from outside her bedroom door, she finally allowed him inside and fell into his arms, her confidence restored.
Other uses of the tune
Other than "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms", the tune is perhaps best known as the melody to Fair Harvard
"Fair Harvard" is the commencement hymn of Harvard University. Composed by the Reverend Samuel Gilman of the class of 1811 for the university's 200th anniversary in 1836, it bids the school an affectionate farewell. Of its four verses, the first and fourth are traditionally sung and the second...
, the alma mater
Alma mater , pronounced ), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Christianity for the Virgin Mary.-General term:...
of Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
. A seventeenth-century folk song, Matthew Locke
Matthew Locke was an English Baroque composer and music theorist.-Biography:As a boy, Locke was trained in the choir of Exeter Cathedral, under Edward Gibbons, the brother of Orlando Gibbons...
's "My Lodging is in the Cold, Cold Ground", was set to this tune some time after its original setting to a different, also traditional, air. Simone Mantia
Simone Mantia was an American baritone horn/euphonium virtuoso and also trombone artist at the turn of the twentieth century. He was both a performer and administrator with many American band and orchestral ensembles...
, a pioneer of American euphonium
The euphonium is a conical-bore, tenor-voiced brass instrument. It derives its name from the Greek word euphonos, meaning "well-sounding" or "sweet-voiced"...
music, composed a theme and variations on the melody, which remains a staple of the solo euphonium literature.
The tune also appears in the 1944 Private snafu short "Booby Traps", the 1951 Merrie Melodies
Merrie Melodies is the name of a series of animated cartoons distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures between 1931 and 1969.Originally produced by Harman-Ising Pictures, Merrie Melodies were produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions from 1933 to 1944. Schlesinger sold his studio to Warner Bros. in 1944,...
animated cartoon Ballot Box Bunny
Ballot Box Bunny is a 1950 animated Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoon short released in 1951, directed by Friz Freleng and written by Warren Foster.-Plot:...
, and the 1957 short Show Biz Bugs
Show Biz Bugs is a Warner Bros. animated short originally released to theaters on November 2, 1957. It is billed as a Looney Tunes cartoon and stars Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as its main characters...
, 1965 Road Runner cartoon Rushing Roulette
, and Slappy Squirrel's 1993 introductory episode, "Slappy Goes Walnuts", from Animaniacs
Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs, usually referred to as simply Animaniacs, is an American animated series, distributed by Warner Bros. Television and produced by Amblin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. The cartoon was the second animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven...
. In its cartoon appearances, the song is often the cue for a classic "bomb gag" wherein the playing of the first line of the song sets off a rigged explosion on the final note. The gag is so well-known that it is often called "The Xylophone gag."
The song appears as well in the opening bars of Dexy's Midnight Runners' 1982-83 #1 pop hit "Come On Eileen
"Come On Eileen" was a single released by Dexys Midnight Runners in 1982. The song was written by Kevin Rowland, "Big" Jim Paterson, and Billy Adams; it was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. It also appeared on the album Too-Rye-Ay...
The tune is played on the harmonica in the 1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (film)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American film written and directed by John Huston, a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, in which two Americans Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin during the 1920s in Mexico join with an old-timer, Howard , to prospect for gold...
by the character played by Walter Huston
Walter Thomas Huston was a Canadian-born American actor. He was the father of actor and director John Huston and the grandfather of actress Anjelica Huston and actor Danny Huston.-Life and career:...